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Pet Wise: Keeping your pets safe and calm on the Fourth of July

Pet Wise: Keeping your pets safe and calm on the Fourth of July
Summer can be a noisy and stressful time for our pets — even those decked out in red, white and blue for the 4th of July. (Straublund Photography / Getty Images)

Summer can be a noisy and stressful time for our pets.

Thunder storms and the sounds of fireworks can trigger fear in pets, however owners can take measures to desensitize their dogs to these loud sounds according to Kathy Santos, a regular columnist for the American Kennel Club’s magazine Family Dog.

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She recommends that owners acquire videos or recordings of fireworks played at a low volume in the morning and gradually increasing the volume during the day with owners observing their dog’s response to the sounds and can adjust the volume as needed. She also suggests that owners remain at home if their dogs are afraid of the sounds of fireworks or thunderstorms.

Owners are advised to slowly inhale and exhale when fireworks and thunder start, play calming music, keep high value treats or toys on within reach to give the dog when thunder starts or a firework goes off and to keep tossing treats and toys. Food puzzle toys, like goody-stuffed Kongs or food dispensing toys, may be pleasant distractions for sound-sensitive dogs.

If the owner cannot remain at home, Santos recommends the following:

-Hire a pet sitter or friend to stay with the dog or bring the dog to a quieter house before the fireworks start;

-Make sure the dog is wearing tags and has a microchip with current contact information;

-Take the dog for a long walk before fireworks start because the dog may fall asleep while the owner is away;

-Leave calming music, white noise, and/or the television on;

-Leave the dog with a stuffed Kong or other interactive toy.

If the dog has severe anxiety issues, Santos suggests consulting with a vet if medication is necessary.

There are calming products available, such as Dog Appeasing Pheromones, Thundershirts, and Anxiety wraps, as well as dog-essential oils like lavender, and herbal anti-stress supplement for dogs.

Owners are advised to keep all pets indoors on July 4 to prevent the disappearance of their frightened four-legged family members.

On July 5, I strongly recommend that pet owners closely inspect their property for remnants of fireworks and promptly remove them because they could cause injury or even death if chewed. People who set off fireworks in their neighborhoods may not be aware how close they are to their neighbor’s property.

Have a safe and enjoyable Fourth of July with your two-legged and four-legged family.

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